If you are anything like me, you’ve been waiting all year
for the summer! The sun is shining on your morning walk. The balmy nights are perfectly
relaxing. And there’s nothing better
than joining your best friends and family for delicious food and a cold drink
at a summer cookout. So why is this
blog titled “Surviving” Summer BBQ’s?
What’s not to love?
Well, for many people who have made the effort to eat right,
a BBQ can cause anxiety. You may worry
that you’ll fall off the “health wagon” and lose the habits that you’ve worked
so hard on all year long. After all,
BBQ’s involve loads of not- so- healthy food, tons of alcohol, and friends and
family who may not live the lifestyle that you and I do. Not to
worry! Below are some tried and true
tips, as well as a few smart recipe ideas to help you enjoy your next BBQ
without compromising your healthy lifestyle.
1. Remember, balance is the key to a healthy
lifestyle. There will be times in life
when you may overindulge; an extra glass of your favorite wine, a heaping scoop
of ice cream or maybe even a pile of fall –off- the bone ribs at a cookout. Taking part in the occasional treat is normal,
in fact it’s great! Because if you can
live a healthy lifestyle while still allowing yourself the occasional treat,
you’ve truly mastered balance and that leads to permanent change! The lesson to
be learned here? A little indulgence is
good for you and keeps you from craving or feeling deprived. Just make sure to get right back on track
with a balanced meal at the next opportunity to get your metabolism moving in
the right direction again.
2. Plan for the
event. If you know that you have a
summer cookout planned for this Saturday, aim to be extra consistent with your
nutrition and fitness routine all week long.
Acknowledge the fact that you may overindulge at this Saturday’s BBQ,
and actually plan the “off” meal into your week. Use this “system” of acknowledging the “off”
meal and planning it to help you to make extra effort all week to eat clean,
balanced meals every few hours. Let the
fact that you’ll be indulging on Saturday spur you to kick butt at the gym and
make the most of every workout all week long.
The process here is both physical and mental. By working extra hard all week to make room
for this Saturday’s fiesta, you’ll physically be in prime fat burning mode by
the time the party rolls around.
Mentally, you’ll be able to let go of any guilt you may normally have
(see Tip #1 above as a reminder about the importance of balance). After all, you’ve worked hard all week and
you’ve planned to relax and indulge a bit with your friends and family. It’s a win, win situation!
3. Believe it or not,
it’s a bad idea to deprive yourself all day Saturday to save “room” and
“calories” for the big event. If you
walk into a BBQ with every type of food imaginable at your fingertips and you
haven’t eaten all day, you are heading for disaster! Always eat balanced meals one hour within
waking and every 3 hours before a cookout.
This way your mind is in control of your food choices, not your empty
stomach! It’s a smart idea to also eat
one hour before the event. Try snacking
on a protein bar before the party to help keep blood sugar stable and allow you
to make conscious food choices when you arrive.
4. It doesn’t hurt to
bring along some healthy and delicious choices, or at least know how to
identify them at a cookout. Do your
best to build a balanced plate with some protein and carbohydrates and keep in
mind that most dishes offered at a BBQ will have more than enough fat (way more
actually!). Whether you are hosting the event or
attending, the following list makes for delectable (and healthy) party food
that everyone will enjoy.
-Try Marinated or BBQ grilled chicken breasts, shrimp, pork
tenderloin, salmon steaks or filet mignon (the leanest red meat) on the grill. Meat, poultry or seafood and vegetable kabobs
are also healthy and a fun change of pace.
-Instead of regular hamburgers, try using 97% lean ground
beef. Serve with all the regular
toppings and whole wheat buns.
-Chop a mixture of your favorite vegetables in large chunks
(corn, tomato, zucchini, red onion, bell peppers) or try whole asparagus with
the bottom of the stalk cut off. Toss in
a bowl with quality extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground black
pepper. Grill until slightly charred to
really bring out the flavors.
-Instead of plain old pasta salad with a few veggies tossed
in for good measure, go in the opposite direction. Use your favorite pasta salad recipe only
make a few adjustments. Triple the
vegetable content (and vary it up- grape tomatoes, fresh bell pepper, onion,
cucumber, banana peppers, etc.) and use the pasta as the filler, not the main
event. Use a reduced fat version of your
favorite dressing such as low fat Italian dressing in place of regular. If using a mayo based dressing, try cutting
the amount of mayo in half and replacing the rest with plain, low fat yogurt-
it will add a little tang and a lot of flavor.
Lastly fresh herbs like parsley or basil really make a dish stand out
from the crowd.
-Try whipping up a low fat dip like hummus or mango salsa
(combine chopped mango, red onion, a small amount of minced garlic and jalapeno
with a splash of lime juice and good olive oil.
Toss with fresh cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper). Serve with home -made baked whole wheat pita
chips. (Hint- Mango salsa also works beautifully
on grilled meat, poultry and seafood.)
-Fresh fruit platters are always well received and a
perfectly sweet way to complete a meal.
Try serving a variety of fruit with a home-made dip of Plain Yogurt,
vanilla extract, honey and lemon zest or try our Pina Colada Dip found in your
Recipe Collection inside your software!
5. Speaking of, check
out some of these BBQ friendly recipes found inside your software in the Recipe
Creamy Shrimp Salad, Boca Burgers, Shrimp and Pasta Salad,
Restaurant Worthy Steak on the
Grill, BBQ Shrimp Kabobs, Grilled Fish w/ Tomato and Herbs,
Pina Colada Dip w/ Fruit,
Strawberry Lemon Frozen Yogurt (try turning these into
frozen pops for easy serving!), Greek
Brown Rice Salad, Cheesy Zucchini (an odd choice for a BBQ
but it’s really good, promise!),
6. Stay hydrated
with plenty of water to beat bloat, fatigue and headaches. If you’re the host, try serving homemade
lemonade with ice water, freshly squeezed lemon and lemon slices sweetened with
Stevia or Truvia.
7. Get creative with
your alcohol. I like Skinny Girl Margarita in a glass with a ton of flavored
seltzer water which adds fizz and extra fluid to make the drink last. Light
beer or wine is also a good choice. The rule of thumb with alcohol is, use the
drink to replace the starchy carb in the meal.
So basically you would have your protein and fat with some light
carbohydrates like grilled veggies or salad plus a drink or two. If you must splurge on both carbs and
alcohol, go for a lighter drink like the ones described above and keep it to a
2 drink maximum if possible.
8. Do something active!
At my house we play “bags” (also known as Cornhole to all of you in the
South) or go swimming with my nephews.
The point is, if you keep mingling and keep moving, your less likely to
hover at the dessert table and this means less mindless munching!
9. And my last tip? I
find that after a day cookout, I’m exhausted by 5 or 6 pm, which is frustrating
because clearly it’s much too late for a nap and I’m pretty sure I can’t get
away with going to sleep at that time!
So I take a power walk outside after the cookout. It helps me to burn off some of the treats
from the cookout but most importantly, it rejuvenates me enough to stay awake until
Remember, the summer is all about having fun, enjoying the
weather and family and friends and relaxing!
The great thing is, you can absolutely do all of that while sticking to
your goals with the tips above. Cheers
to an amazing summer!
Lead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef